WHAT IS THE BLM LAND LIKE AROUND QUARTZSITE AZ
Only being here for just a few months in the Quartzsite area and on BLM land, we wonder what it was really going to be like and what to expect. We did a lot of research on the internet about the area, and although many of our questions were answer, we still didn't know exactly what to expect.
Okay, first thing we thought is that we would be living out in the desert on sandy floor with nothing but a few scraggly cactus around us. Everyone said you will easily find all the BLM land, but again we didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into. The scariest thought was getting the rig stuck and having to pay big bucks to get it unstuck.
They say that easily in the winter months there could be literally thousands maybe even millions of RV’ers cluttering the desert floor, so where does everyone park; On top of one another?
First of all the desert floor does not consist of just sand; it’s more gravely/dirt. We did not expect to find small bushes, lots of cactus of varies types and even some small trees. There are rocks galore, some large enough that you have to literally dodge them with your vehicle, especially RVs. In some instants, you might have to get out and remove that large rock out of your way to prevent damage being done. For the most part, the “main” roads have already been cleared out for you. And no, the park staff does not remove rocks for our convenience; we are all on our own! They will from time to time do a little maintenance, but only on the main roadway and no other place.
Now, you have “washes” that you also might have to cross over; but never cross them after a rain. We have been here for over two months, and we’ve only seen little water in the washes. Some washes are extremely steep; straight down and then back up again. Rigs are very prone to drag in these washes and a few have even gotten themselves in a bit of trouble. So be on the alert to those washes. Some washes are a breeze to cross over and if not, go a little farther down the road, and maybe there is another crossing without the steep washes. Some of the washes are as wide as a dried up river bed while others are the size of a dried up creek bed. The river bed size you might have to be very, very careful crossing with a rig, the gravel in the washes can be loose. Our biggest advice is, when you come across a washed area, get out and walk, also look around to see what other types and size of rigs have crossed over. Generally, you won’t find the nicer, newer, fancy rigs past those washes…And if someone is outdoors, ask them about crossing or if there is another easier spot to cross over. Most of the folks out here our seasoned campers and have been coming to this area for years and probably know the land better than anyone else.
When you come to the first exit for Quartzsite off of I-10 heading towards CA, if you look towards your left, you will see rigs sitting out in the open desert floor. And past Quartzsite again on your left hand side is more land; these are free. There is yet more free BLM Land into California. Heading on 95 N just outside of Quartzsite and heading towards Parker AZ, on the right is another BLM Land that too is free, there is a sign from the roadway that tells you it’s BLM land and I do believe there is a fencing around part of the area, since it’s a small area for free camping. Camping on anyone of the free areas you can only stay for 14 days and then you have to move at least 25 miles from your previous spot.
BLM land around Quartzsite and in Yuma both have what is called the Long Term Visitor Area also known as LTVA. Here you can stay in one spot from the 15th of Sept until the 15th of April, but you also have to pay. For the LTVA season pass is $180.00 (2010-2011 season) during the winter and a different price for the summer; that is if you want to brave the extreme heat during summer time.
When we arrived here at Quartzsite, we were not sure if we would know where to find the LTVA areas; it actually wasn’t hard at all. Heading out on HWY 95 South out of Quartzsite just a mile out you will find the first two LTVA and there are signs on the road. The one on the left is called Laposa North and on the right side is Laposa West. Go about another three miles south, and then you have Laposa South on the left side and TysonWash on the right side. The only one that has water and dump station is Laposa South. When first entering each one, they start out with blacktop roads, but don’t be fool, because they turn into gravel/dirt roads soon after entering each area. In order to use the dump station and water, you must have the LTVA sticker display. Each area does have dumpsters and pit toilets, but only in the first few miles or so. Word of advice: if you like the hustle and bustle of the winter events at Quartzsite then you will want to park at Laposa West or North, for they are very close to all the things that go on in Quartzsite in the Month of Jan. if you want a little more peace and quiet then I suggest Laposa South or TysonWash.
As you enter each area, you will find brown posts in the ground with numbers on them. These numbers refer to BLM roads. Some will go for miles while others are a short distant. You can “park” anywhere you want along these roads or even away from the roads. But be warn, you may come across a road that is not a BLM road, but what others have made into roads. Most generally they can be traveled on by rigs, but just watch for those washes or large rocks! It’s sometimes hard to tell what actually a “road” is for RV’s and what has become an ATV roadway. It seems that the ATV’s will make their own roadways and then it becomes hard to figure out which is for which. A word of advice; if you choose to park close to a busy road, and the wind blows just right, be prepared to eat a lot of dust-literally. That is why we choose to park a distant from a roadway. It also appears when you first come into the area, everyone seems to want to park close to the front. And as a newcomer coming in, first thing you think is: oh my, is this place crowded or what. Unless you like to watch folks coming and going, I suggest traveling a bit farther in and as you do, the rigs seem to get less and less. It’s also quieter the farther you get out.
There are no fences out here on the LTVA. There are Brim’s that the BLM have put to keep folks from not entering other than on the main roads. The farther you drive in; you soon leave the BLM land and enter into other areas. There are signs posted stating that it’s Day-use only and no camping beyond that point. There are also washes that are used as a barrier, and trust me; there is no way around those washes. The roads also become much rougher and not to be traveled on other than with a 4X4 vehicle or ATV’s.
There is a speed limit of 15mph and trust me, once you are off the paved road, 15mph seems to be too fast, unless of course you don’t care if your eggs get scrambled in your frig or you don’t care if everything falls apart. We creep along slowly even if we don’t have the rig and just driving the car. Some have been known to pass us on by, we just smile and wave to them.
As you enter Laposa South, there will be a blue boy dump for those that have the blue boy totes. No RV’s are allowed to dump there and there is no water for rinsing. If you want to rinse, you will have to be patient and wait in line at the dump station. We have been told but not seen yet with our own eyes that there have been as much as 50 rigs waiting in line to dump and fill. My advice to you and what has worked thus far for us, is going early morning to dump. It use to be at one time where the BLM had to literally “lock-up” the dump station at 5pm and wouldn’t unlock it until 9am the next day. There is even a sign as you entered that says the dump station is closed from 5pm-9am. But until it becomes a problem again, they haven’t locked it yet. It seems that those staying in the free area, knew the schedule and would come in to dump and fill when there were no volunteers in the office and no rangers on duty. You will find a vehicle sitting off near the dump station. They are simply there to make sure that folks are lining up in order and that no one is trying to cut another person off, just because he doesn’t want to wait in line. You will also get a grumpy person in an RV telling you that you cannot dump a blue boy tote there and you have to go to the blue boy dumping area. That is not true and don’t be bully. You have just as much right to dump at the station and rinse just as the RVer’s do. We see folks with blue and white 50 gallon tanks on trailers hauling there black water and refilling with fresh water, just so they don’t have to move their RV’s. You will see ATV’s hauling the blue boy tote behind them to dump.
The water here is limited and though we have not run out or seen it run out yet, again it has been told to us that the water has been down for as long as a week. It’s a deep well and the Quartzsite Fire dept has an agreement with BLM that the water table cannot get below a certain level. If it reaches that level, we will be cut off. I guess a year or two ago, some jerk went around in the middle of the night and turned on all the water faucets, running the well completely dry. It took a week just to get to the level for the fire dept to use before they would turn it back on to the campers. So when they say there is a limited supply of water, they literally mean that. As more and more RVers are showing up, we wonder if we will see the well drain down. If this happens, then I guess we will have to pay for water in Quartzsite. There are a few places that actually sell water to you. The going rate varies from place to place. Nothing is free in Quartzsite except LaMesa RV’s breakfast and lunch and that’s a story for another time. Some folks don’t mind drinking the water from here. Unless you have a very sensitive stomach (in which I do), I suggest not drinking it. It is high in salt and there are times you can smell when they have chlorinated the water system, so we spend the few extra dollars and buy drinking water elsewhere.
Generator noises can be an issue out here. Some generators are so noisy that we can hear it for a mile away; while some are as quiet as a mouse. Anything goes as long as you obey the quiet hours from 10pm to 6am. If you think a generator is noisy during daytime hours, don’t expect the BLM to sympathized with you, they will simply tell you if it’s too noisy for you, then move; so long as the other guys is obeying the quiet hours, they won’t do a thing. Many folks have also use solar panels. Some have them at an angle on top of their RV roof, whiles others have them staked down in the ground. Some have just one or two while others will have as many as six or eight! There are just a few out here trying to use wind generator, but the magic here, you need wind…
In Laposa South there is about 75 acres just for those that like to be without clothing. If this is your thing, then you will like this area and it’s easy to find. It’s called The Natural Society or also known as “The Magic Circle”. Just stay on the main roadway into Laposa South, about a mile past the dump station on the right side you will come to a sign with an “N” and two arrows. This is the first road that leads into the Naturalist area. But just because you have passed that first sign, don’t think you can just get out and take your clothes off. It’s back in just a little farther off the main roadway. You will come across yet another sign telling you that beyond this point you may encounter nudist sun bathers, once you past that sign, now you can take your clothes off! Going in the first road, makes it also hard to cross over two washes with a rig, so there is a second sign about a mile past the first one. This one goes back farther in and gets you back into other sections of the Naturalist area. They have 3 other sections: Row A, B and C, take your pick; just remember there are no exist from this area. If you are not a nudist and offend easily, then you will want to stay far away; for on nice days, you are sure to get an eyeball full.
If you own a pet, beware of the coyotes! Several folks around have literally lost their loved pet to these creatures of the desert, and yes, even while on a leash! If you see one coyote, more than likely there is another two or three lurking close by. Most mistakes that pet owners seem to make is that they use those expandable leashes, where you don’t have full control over your pet or they simply allow them pet to run loose or they leave their pet outdoors unattended. Out here we only use a 5 foot solid leash and never leave our little girl by herself, not even for two seconds; we are always outdoors with her. And by all means, DON’T feed the coyotes, you are asking for trouble not only for yourself, but for the next person that comes along.
The final and most important thing is making sure you have paid! If you come in and the office is closed, go ahead and get set up, but make sure you get up there the next day. The office is right when you first enter each LTVA it is mainly operated by volunteers. They cannot accept any credit cards; cash or check only. The volunteers cannot take or handle your cash or checks and they cannot make change for you, so make sure you go in with the right amount of money. They will fill out the slip with your info (make sure you have all license plate numbers with you-including your ATV). They will hand you the envelope and you are responsible to put the money or check in and then drop it into the iron box located inside the office. They also sell BLM maps with all the roads, again the volunteer cannot handle the money.
Remember to follow some of the simple rules and we assure you will enjoy yourself if you like living in the desert in the winter time.
1) Clean-up after pets
2) Quiet hours are 10pm-6am
3) Don’t park on top of each other. BLM says that you can park no closer than 15 feet. So if you get a neighbor on top of you and he’s in that limit, you might want to think about moving…
4) DON’T FEED THE COYOTES OR OTHER WILD ANIMALS!!
5) No picking up, cutting or burning any of the desert wood-dead or not!